Amidst the elite colleges of Boston, Massachusetts, a new institution is opening its doors next month that dares to challenge the status quo.
Sattler College, launching in September, promises a low tuition — $9,000 a year — combined with a strong curriculum that will also uphold and prioritize conservative Christian principles.
“Other schools spend a lot of money on their sports program, fancy foods and fancy dorms. It’s not about education,” said Zach Johnson, a spokesman for the school. “The word [Bible] is the center of what we do, everything should be flowing from that.”
The college aims to be a place where the Christian faith is protected and nurtured, including studying apologetics, its leaders say. They are also concerned with the moral degradation seen at colleges and have a goal that Sattler will stand against that trend.
“As an overall trend, it is evident that most college students are worse off after college when it comes to indicators like pornography addiction, drug usage, underage drinking, lying, stealing, and sexual promiscuity,” Johnson told The Fix. “Statisticians are even having a hard time finding any difference between professing Christians and non-professing Christians when they look at these indicators. College should be a place of moral growth, but this sadly isn’t the case right now.”
— Sattler College (@sattlercollege) January 8, 2018
Sattler College, named after the 15th century Christian reformer Michael Sattler, hopes to offer an alternative.
“Sattler College seeks to prepare students to serve Christ, the church and the world. Our mission is to provide classical education that instructs the mind, discipleship that shapes the soul and inspiration that inflames the heart,” its mission statement reads.
Founder Finny Kuruvilla told WBUR that his college will emphasize caring for immigrants, the poor, refugees, and it will promote pacifism.
“A lot of people, when they hear Christian institution, they think: ‘Oh, you must be a Republican, far-right group,’ ” Kuruvilla said. “We’re very different from that.”
Nearly two dozen students are enrolled for the inaugural year, a calculated number as the institution’s leaders plans to build up the school over time, eventually reaching 300 or so. The college will launch with five majors: Biblical studies, business, computer science, history and human biology. It’s located in a downtown Boston building and leasing rooms for a dorm 20 minutes walking distance away. School starts Sept. 4.
Kuruvilla is an investment fund manager with a medical degree and a PhD from Harvard who has pledged $30 million of his money to fund the school, a college that aims to be a place where students’ characters are developed, not corrupted, the Boston Globe reports.
“The whole notion of education has become generally confined to academic thought, not so much to developing of the whole person, character, and integrity,” Kuruvilla told the Globe. “I think that’s a great tragedy.”
And Kuruvilla, who preaches at a small church in a Boston suburb called Followers of the Way, told Fox News the new school will be no place for “snowflakes.”
“It’s time for a revolution to get college back on track to think about character as much as it thinks about developing the mind,” Kuruvilla told Fox News, adding that because this is a Christian college, it will keep students “grounded.”
Its leaders want a high-quality education accessible to as many students as possible without government regulations dictating what they’re learning, Johnson told The Fix. For that reason, they’ve taken zero dollars in government funding, instead privately funding their entire venture.
Reiterating that colleges were originally for studying the Bible, Johnson told The College Fix that the vision for their college requires students to study topics such as biblical Greek, biblical Hebrew, Church history and apologetics in tandem with their major.
Furthermore, Johnson said the founding team was so invested in making sure that the institution never divests from their founding principles that they legally set-up the board of directors to automatically cut off the college’s funding sources if the institution strays from its founding precepts. Furthermore, the members of Sattler’s board of trustees must affirm to the college’s founding precepts on an annual basis in order to maintain a position on the board.
“Some people think that’s crazy and we’ve got to tell that to students when they’re coming in, but everyone is excited for the learning,” Johnson said.
Johnson added that the founding team was deeply concerned that all faculty and staff were personally living out their principles and turned down many otherwise qualified applicants to make sure the entire staff worked in harmony.
Students, meanwhile, will undergo intentional discipleship training along with their studies, receiving a statement of Christian discipleship along with their diplomas.
As part of their training, the entire school will join daily tea-time to pray and refocus on their mission. All students will meet weekly with professors to discuss their progress in their character goals and in small groups with other students to offer one another support.
The college’s academic model is unique, the Boston Globe reports, noting “faculty will teach some core courses in biblical languages and religious history, but many academic courses will be taken online. Students will watch lectures through free online learning platforms such as EdX, then attend classes to discuss the material with other students and professors.”